Find helpful budget-friendly makeover ideas.
Make over your home with decorating tricks that don’t cost a dime!Who says you have to spend money to makeover your home? Here are some easy, fun and practical ideas for spiffing up your space without spending a cent.
Recipe: Chocolate pecan buttercream cake
Brown Sugar Buttercream
Directions for cake
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Butter and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans. Shake out excess flour. Line the bottom of the pans with circles of parchment paper.
3 In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar. Mix on low speed until well combined.
4 Dissolve coffee in boiling water and set aside to cool to room temperature. Add coffee to dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
5 In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually mix into dry ingredients and beat just until smooth.
6 Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake in centre of preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Directions for pecan meringue
1 Preheat oven to 225°F.
2 Trace two 8-¾-inch circles on a sheet of parchment paper, turn over, and place on a large baking sheet.
3 In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop pecans into very small pieces.
4 In a small bowl, combine chopped pecans and icing sugar. Mix with a fork to make sure there are no lumps. Set aside.
5 In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, start whisking egg whites on medium speed. Add cream of tartar and continue to whisk until frothy. Add 2 Tbsp of sugar. Increase speed to high and continue to whisk, gradually adding the remaining sugar. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gradually fold in the pecan-sugar mixture. Divide evenly between the two parchment circles, smoothing out the surface of each meringue circle.
6 Bake in centre of preheated oven until crisp and dry, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely on baking sheet.
Directions for buttercream
1 In the clean bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar and egg whites. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continuously until sugar is melted and egg whites are warm to the touch. Remove from heat and place bowl on mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
2 Whisk at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the butter and vanilla and continue whipping until smooth and thick. Set aside.
Directions for syrup
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Directions for decoration
1 Line the back of a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
2 Using a spatula, spread white chocolate over sheet, then pour dark chocolate overtop. Using spatula, quickly swirl the two chocolates together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
Directions for assemble cake
1 Place first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush with soaking syrup. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream (about 1/3 cup). Place the first layer of meringue on buttercream. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat with cake, syrup, buttercream, meringue, buttercream, ending with a cake layer.
2 Using a sharp knife, trim the meringue layers if necessary to make the cake layers even. Ice entire cake with remaining buttercream. Using your spatula, make a spiral design on the top of the cake with the buttercream.
3 To decorate, break marbled chocolate into pieces the same height as the cake. Press gently into buttercream on sides of cake. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving.
Can you tell which country-chic console is the high and which is the low?
Can you tell which country-chic console is the high and which is the low?Credits: Michael Nangreaves; produced by Stacy Begg & Morgan Lindsay
We designed a country-chic living room console and styled it to match on budgets behooving both a cart horse and a thoroughbred. Can you tell the difference?
1 A-Street Prints Reclaimed White Washed Boards wallpaper in Cream, Brewster Home Fashions, $320 ($160 per double roll).
2 What Lies Ahead print on standard paper with White Premium Wood frame, 44" x 44", Minted, $468 US.
3 Acrylic and metal Column table lamp with cotton shade in Polished Nickel, West Elm, $239.
4 Hans Wegner oil-finished oak and hand-woven paper cord Wishbone side chair, Design Within Reach, $1,315.
6 Jute, leather and cotton Shiva rug, 5' x 8', Urban Barn, $249.
7 Trees in the Morning 2 artwork by Masood Omer (22" x 28"), Art Interiors, $700.
8 Vintage ceramic ginger jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $1,200 (per pair).
9 Vintage ceramic bowl, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $195.
10 Antique ceramic lidded jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $195.
1 Whitewood eastern white pine click floor boards (10' x 6" x 1") The Home Depot, $174 ($10.20 Per board)
2 Framed horse print (40" x 40"), HomeSense, $299.
3 Canvas studded glass and brushed steel Sonia table lamp with polyester blend shade, Canadian Tire, $130.
4 Beech and paper cord Denmark side chair in Beige, Structube, $239.
6 Hand-loomed hemp and suede Overbrook rug in Natural (5' x 8'), EQ3, $150.
7 Kingston 14 artwork by Ian Varney (16" x 20"), Canvas Gallery, $550.
8 Vintage ceramic ginger jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $595 (per pair).
9 Vintage ceramic bowl, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $65.
10 Vintage ceramic lidded jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $15.
Got an über-practical yet plain-Jane storage unit? Dress it up with a custom skirt. The stylish traditional element will add formal flair to the room while concealing the unit’s contents (we’ve stocked ours with liquors and glassware to create an ersatz bar, but you can stash just about anything in yours). A glass top will finish the look and protect the fabric. In addition to a centre pleated slit, the High console skirt features an elegant pleat at either corner for a fun decorative touch.
With sophisticated transparent bases and chic cream-toned fabric shades, these classic cylindrical table lamps will suit any room. All that’s left to match is your budget.
1 Aerin crystal Lineham with linen shade in Polished Nickel, Cocoon Furnishings, $1,088.
2 Glass and aluminum French Column with linen shade in Polished Nickel, Restoration Hardware, $375 US.
3 L2 Lighting glass and chrome-plated steel Chloe with linen shade, Lowe's, $245.
4 Canvas studded glass and brushed steel Sonia with polyester blend shade, Canadian Tire, $130.
Blue and white ginger jars have held their position among decor royalty for centuries – impressive, considering their blue-collar roots. So named for their function of housing ginger and other spices in ancient China, the vessels have transcended utilitarianism and – more often than not – get to, well, sit there and look pretty. We love the casual look created by mixing the jars with an array of matching two-tone chinoiserie ceramics, such as an antique lidded jar, a vintage bowl and more recently produced plates and teacups (these are by time-honoured manufacturer Royal Copenhagen).
Get ready to be floored: While our High tongue-and-groove wall treatment is fully faux (we bet the wood panel-look wallpaper had you fooled), the Low wall is clad in white-painted floorboards. Both options are simple DIYs that bear the country-chic aesthetic of shiplap panelling. Floorboards are easy to install on a wall, as long as you know how to handle a hand drill and have some help balancing on a ladder.
Not every piece that suits our High or Low room sets makes the cut. This month, stylists Morgan Lindsay and Stacy Begg came across this sleek hurricane candle sconce just a little too late. “The product’s brass finish would have glammed up the rustic, time-worn look a bit,” says Morgan.
You'll love these lavender shortbread cookies.
These sophisticated shortbread cookies are a wonderful pairing of citrus and herbs.
You're likely familiar with the wonderful results that come from pairing citrus and herbs, but our guess is that you tend to reach for rosemary or mint when preparing a lemony summer treat. Up the ante this month and try a combination that's a little more unexpected, but just as powerful. Delicate lavender imbues desserts with a distinct floral note and flecks of pale purple, and when combined with lemon, the flavour is even stronger. These elegant shortbread cookies are a satisfying snack and the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea in the garden -- complete with big hats and sundresses, of course.
1 Cream the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the flour, sugar and salt; beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the lavender, beating until just incorporated.
2 Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and roll to a 1⁄4" thickness. Cut out the cookies using a round cookie cutter and place 1" apart on a greased baking sheet.
3 Bake on the centre rack of a 300°F oven for 20 minutes; let cool.
4 Make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar and lemon juice together. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the glaze over each cookie, spreading to cover the whole surface. Let set for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Makes: 36 cookies